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At the intersections of history

April 04, 2024

Current View

By Alexander Menaker and Doug Boyd

Learn how our archaeologists used community archaeology to preserve a freedman-owned blacksmith shop in: Advances in Archaeological Practice

The Bolivar Archaeological Project exemplifies the possibilities of archaeology as service, incorporating descendant communities and local stakeholders into the fabric of the research design and planning for a state infrastructure project. This collaborative, multidisciplinary project attends to marginalized histories to offer a model for how publicly funded cultural resources management archaeology can serve multiple goals.

The Bolivar Archaeological Project was conceived as a public archaeology project, with dual goals of being community driven and yielding scholarly contributions. In the shifting rural–urban landscape of Denton County, a Texas Department of Transportation road improvement project has supported archaeological investigations of two nineteenth-century sites—a blacksmith shop and hotel—associated with the historic Chisholm Trail.

The blacksmith shop belonged to Tom Cook, an African American freedman, whose descendants reside nearby and became active participants in the investigations, including as collaborative authors in this article. The project illustrates the importance of representation and praxis to realize inclusive community engagement, with this article outlining the development of the project and ongoing research. 

  • Alexander Menaker

    A senior archaeologist who has worked across the Americas and Caribbean, Alexander brings nearly two decades of archaeological and historic research experience in all levels of survey and testing to every project.

    Contact Alexander
  • Doug Boyd

    Doug is a senior archaeologist based who primarily works with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and their Archeological Studies Program.

    Contact Doug
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